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Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Saudi Arabia,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O.12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Saudi Arabia,
Syria/Brazil, Al-Hariri Investigation, Iraq, Lebanon,
Palestinian Territories, (11/18-20)

1. Summary: Syrian papers over the weekend reported visits
to Damascus by Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, Secretary General
of the Saudi Security Council, carrying a letter from King
Abdullah to President Asad, and Renato Rabillo, Leader of
the Brazilian Communist Party.

Papers on 11/19 quoted a diplomatic source as saying that
Riad al-Daoudi, legal adviser of the Syrian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, has conferred with Mehlis in Barcelona, but
did not elaborate further about the meeting.

On 11/18 papers featured a statement by Russian FM Lavrov,
in the wake of his meeting with Secretary Rice in South
Korea, that he has reached an agreement with Rice to
continue direct dialogue with Syria to solve technical
issues to carry out UNSC resolutions.

As for Iraq, papers reported the inauguration of the Arab
League conference on Iraqi National Reconciliation held in
Cairo and cited statements by Iraqi politicians warning
against excessive optimism about the outcome of the

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End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad receives Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, Secretary
General of the Saudi Security Council, who carries a letter
from King Abdullah on latest developments in the region and
bilateral relations" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 11/18)
"President Asad lauds Brazil's supportive positions on Arab
causes and discusses bilateral cooperation and the current
situation in the region with Renato Rabillo, leader of the
Brazilian Communist Party" (government-owned Al-Ba'th,
"Al-Shara in Cairo today to participate in the preliminary
meeting for the Iraqi Reconciliation Conference" (Government-
owned Tisheen, 11/19)
"Riad al-Daoudi [legal adviser of the Syrian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs] confers with Mehlis in Barcelona"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 11/19)
"Lavrov: I reached an agreement with Rice on continuing
direct dialogue with Syria to solve technical issues"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 11/18
"Syrian and Palestinian flags are raised in Gaza. Steadfast
Gaza announces absolute support for Syria against pressure
and threats" (Government-owned Tishreen 11/19)
"Lebanon calls for complete pullout from Shaba Farms"
(Government-owned Syria Times, 11/20)
"The five Lebanese fishermen arrested for not carrying a
permit to sail and fish in Syrian territorial waters are
released" (Government-owned Syria Times, 11/20)
"The Iraqi Reconciliation conference is inaugurated with
attendance of 60 Iraqi figures. Al-Shara emphasizes Iraq's
territorial integrity and Arabism and denounces the killing
of innocents" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 11/20)
"Washington and London acknowledge use of white phosphorous
in Iraq. The Independent: Bush has sold out established US
values. The Assembly of Muslim Scholars accuses Iraqi
security of liquidating its members" (Government-owned Al-
Ba'th, 11/18)
"Two terrorist blasts target two mosques in Khanaqin,
Eastern Iraq: 70 killed, 150 injured. Iraq warns against
excessive optimism regarding the outcome of the Iraqi
National Reconciliation Conference" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 11/19)
"The US Congress receives first official demand for
immediate withdrawal from Iraq" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th,
"Bush rejects timetable for Iraq pullout" (Government-owned
Syria Times, 11/20)
"As percentage of popular confidence in President Bush
declines, the US Congress loses confidence in war on Iraq.
Controversy on invasion is on the rise. The Pentagon
interrogates Feith on charge of misleading" (Government-
owned Tishreen, 11/19)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

"What Is behind the News: We are not alone?"

Isam Dari, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (11/19): "All hell broke loose when Damascus said
that there are in neighboring states people who are plotting
against Syria, implementing US policies, and contributing to
the campaign of pressure and threats. It is as if we are
required to receive the daggers of treachery in our sides
and backs, kiss the hand that stabs us, and face the plot
complacently rather than resist it because it is bigger than
us and those involved in it....
"But there are limits and red lines that one must not cross,
regardless of his relationship to us and how close to or far
from us he is. The matter is no longer one of talk,
statements, and hidden grudges, that have found the right
climate to grow their thorns and ooze their poison, but is
now secret plotting and sometimes open plotting. In such a
situation it is no longer possible to remain silent or
tolerate lies, agitation, and deception....
"In the face of this onslaught, in which some brothers and
some Arabic-speaking media have a role, unfortunately, we
had to speak the truth, take an honorable stand for the sake
of history and future generations, choose the path of honor
and dignity, and reject the path of cheap compromises and
deals that are clinched in dark, closed chambers that
Damascus is not used to and will not get used to.
"Whoever thinks he can affect Syria and its stand by relying
on outsiders is definitely deluded. Syria will remain
difficult to overcome; and if it depends in its
steadfastness on its domestic front and national unity, it
also depends on free men in the Arab world and the world at
large. Syria is not alone in confronting this dangerous,
unprecedented plot against Arab identity and civilization.
The plotters will discover that they are the first victims
of this plot, in which they are taking part willingly or for
the eyes of the US Administration and its allies!"
"Democracy of White Phosphorous "
Samir al-Shibani, a op-ed writer in government-owned
Tishreen, wrote (11/19): "The tragedy the Iraqi people are
experiencing is bigger than words.... It is difficult to say
that Iraq has moved from an era of dictatorship to an era of
"Everyone agrees that 32 months of American-British
occupation have conclusively proven that the occupation
forces have a very precise scenario to loot Iraq's
resources, undermine its territorial integrity, and sow the
seeds of domestic sedition among its people.... Due to the
American hegemony over the United Nations, the US violations
in Iraq go unpunished....
"No matter how long it takes the international conscience to
wake up, the democracy of white phosphorous will not succeed
in proud Iraq."
"Correcting Mistakes with Mistakes"
Hanan Hamad, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (11/19): "It is obvious that President Bush has
started to pay the price for his mistakes in the invasion of
Iraq and its repercussions. He is paying the price from his
popularity and the popularity of the Republican Party in
general. But this does not mean he and his administration
officials and the majority of Republicans intend to revise
the American policy.
"But what is more serious than the administration's
insistence on its positions is its hostile offensive and
attempts to open new fronts in more than one direction....
[In an attempt to escape from its trouble in and over Iraq,
the US Administration] might make more mistakes."
"What Is Important Is the Investigation, not its Venue"
Ahmad Dawwa, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
commented (11/18): "It has become obvious in the past few
days that those who are supposed to seek to uncover Al-
Hariri's killers are busy creating a problem regarding the
venue of the interrogation of the Syrian witnesses.
Meanwhile, Syria has made several suggestions to avoid such
a problem because its basic objective and interest lie in
uncovering these criminal murderers and preserving the
security and stability of the region that some international
forces are trying to undermine as they exploit the crime....
"It is obvious that some forces that wish to continue to
exploit Al-Hariri's assassination are trying to create a
problem over a purely procedural matter that should not be
given such importance, since the proposed alternatives
respond to the basic end, namely, finding Al-Hariri's
killers. Syria's acceptance of the investigation
commission's conditions on the method of interrogation and
other matters related to it should put aside the fabricated
problem regarding the venue of the interrogation. This is
especially true since the alternatives proposed by the
Syrian side meet the terms of the interrogation, grant to
the commission the guarantees it has asked for, and remove
Syrian apprehensions about conducting the interrogation in
"The charge of obstructing the investigation and of not
cooperating should be leveled at those who wish to create a
problem regarding the venue of the interrogation despite the
presence of alternatives that meet the demands of the
international commission. What is more important and the
essence of the issue is to find the culprits and to take
them to court rather than looking for problems on procedural
matters. The international commission should take seriously
Lebanese Prime Minister Fu'ad al-Saniora's remarks that he
prefers that the interrogation of the Syrian witnesses be
done outside Lebanon, with or without coordination with the
"Positions Raising Hundreds of Questions"
Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned
Tishreen, wrote (11/17): "The investigations into Al-
Hariri's assassination have publicly turned into a tool of
political pressure on Syria and Lebanon for reasons that
have absolutely nothing to do with the assassination
crime.... The US Administration is taking advantage of the
assassination to settle old scores with Syria, especially
over Iraq. The daily US accusations and threats to Syria
are happening while the investigation commission has not yet
issued its final verdict, and while Syria cooperates with
the commission, urges it to continue its work, and stresses
that there will be no limits to its cooperation if the aim
is to uncover the perpetrators of the assassination crime."
"Finding the truth about Al-Hariri's assassination is
clearly and undisputedly a Syrian demand. Everybody knows
that this truth is a Syrian interest. But what can Syria do
if the others want to keep this issue as a card for
political pressure and settlement of scores?"
"Yet Syria, which seeks the truth, remains open to
cooperation with the international investigation commission
and to objective and balanced ideas and views, provided
there are no preset positions and inclinations, and provided
that the aim is not deliberate harm to sovereignty and
"Syrian Cannot Be Isolated"
Muhammad Khair Al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-
owned Al-Thawra, wrote (11/17): "Condoleezza Rice and Ari'el
Sharon have called for isolating Syria.... Syria is too
strong to be isolated for two reasons: First, Syria is
defending a just cause linked to its right to protect its
national, Arab, and regional role and safeguard its
independence, stability, and sovereignty against the plans
of marginalization, cancellation, and national and pan-Arab
fragmentation that target it and the countries of the region
under false slogans of freedom and democracy, slogans that
the democracy of death, destruction, and chaos in Iraq
proved to be lies. Second, the nature of the tendentious
campaign against Syria has been exposed as a campaign aimed
at distorting Syria's role and support for just and rightful
causes. It is a bald attempt to blame Syria for the failure
of American policy in the region and make Israel the
strongest power in the region, capable of controlling the
region's present circumstances and future developments....
"Many countries and peoples in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin
America, and the Middle East have expressed solidarity with
Syria.... The powers that are trying to isolate Syria are
themselves isolated by most of the world...."

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